Maybe the Cleveland Browns forgot that NFL free agency started on Tuesday.
Those running the Cleveland Browns, most notably owner Jimmy Haslam and team general manager Ray Farmer, claimed that the Browns were not going to make a major splash in National Football League free agency this time around. We are only one day into the official start of the new NFL year, of course, but it sure appears as if Haslam and Farmer are men of their word as it pertains to free agency.
Nothing. That would be the one word use to summarize what the Browns achieved once NFL free agency officially opened up at 4:00 pm ET on Tuesday. Some would point out that Cleveland made the signing of wide receiver Brian Hartline official, a transaction that was as lackluster as it was expected. Hartline is a fine get for a team that desperately needs help at the wide receiver position, but Hartline does not move the needle nor does he make for free agency news that registers on sports tickers.
That was it. Hartline and then feelings of disappointment among many within the fan base of the Browns was how the first night of free agency wrapped up for those in Cleveland. It is not that the Browns were not linked with big-name targets even before 4 pm rolled around. Just as quickly as hope arrived for fans of the Browns via the wonder of the Internet, those dreams were crushed by the reality of stories about players signing for other teams. It was not even an hour into free agency when fans wondering just what the heck was going on in the offices of Berea took to Twitter to post memes on the matter.
The Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams exchanged quarterbacks. The Eagles may have made at least two more trades in the time that it takes you to read this sentence considering whatever it is that head coach/team czar Chip Kelly is cooking up over there. Superstar tight end Jimmy Graham was dealt by the New Orleans Saints to the Seattle Seahawks in a free agency move that saw the rich get richer. That trade brought along crazy rumors of quarterback Drew Brees being on the market, and some even saw fit to suggest that the Browns could acquire to to-be Hall-of-Fame QB.
Spoiler alert: It didn’t happen.
Trent Cole picked the Indianapolis Colts over the Browns. Cleveland failed to land a suitable replacement for tight end Jordan Cameron, and there is speculation that the player who has suffered with concussion issues during his NFL career could return to the Browns due to having no suitors. Brian Hoyer moved on. Shutdown cornerback Darrelle Revis got paid and in a big way to return to the New York Jets. Percy Harvin remains an option for the Browns, but there are multiple reasons that he has played himself off of three different clubs. The New York Giants hit up the bargain bin of free agency to officially begin the new NFL year.
Then, there were the Browns. A team that had been projected to have over $40 million in cap space refused to make a real run at standout defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, was never in the conversation for an available Revis who has a history of being a mercenary willing to cash in on paychecks from any team that offers them, and the Browns couldn’t be bothered to sign cornerback Buster Skrine when the best available option for the Browns at that position is Justin Gilbert — the same Justin Gilbert who had about as bad a rookie season as quarterback Johnny Manziel, which is really saying something with Manziel having spent over a month in rehab to date.
There is something to be said about a team spending and not spending wisely at the start of free agency. It is, however, a different thing entirely when a club in need of talent that also has money to burn does nothing to address the team’s glaring issues and at the same time fails to bring excitement to a fan base that has watched mostly losing football for the past 15 years. While other markets were filled with meaningful free agency chatter for several hours, those who follow the Browns were left refreshing Internet web pages hoping to learn even a small piece of positive news. They never got that satisfaction.
What else is new for those individuals?
Zac has been covering the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and National Football League for a variety of websites since 2006. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.